EBEN JUNCTION - Solar cookers, wind turbines and recycling are much talked about topics at one Alger County school.
This May, Superior Central was named the first green school in the Upper Peninsula, meeting 10 or more of 20 criteria specified by House Bill 5554, according to science teacher Tim Bliss. In addition, this summer, the school received a $1,000 Live Green Grant from Discovery Education and General Motors.
"(Students) are justifiably proud of their accomplishment of being the U.P.'s first Michigan Green School and are very interested in our future projects and what more we can do to help our environment and reduce energy consumption in our school," Bliss said.
Among the students' projects that helped them receive the designation are solar cookers, built by last year's eighth-grade science class.
"They are simply made of cardboard, aluminum foil and plastic wrap," Bliss said. "They operate by reflecting the sun's energy into a small chamber where food is placed. Plastic wrap covering this chamber creates a 'greenhouse effect' and heats the food. On a cold but clear spring day, we were able to get the temperature of this chamber up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. In another test this summer, I was able to approach 250 degrees."
Other initiatives that makes Superior Central green are saving energy by taping over light switches that are not being used, establishing a native plants garden, dry-cell battery recycling, teaching about alternative fuels and paper recycling.
Via the Live Green Grant, Bliss and his drawing and design students as well as physics students have been designing and building two wind turbines that will supply electricity for the lighting of the science classrooms at the school.
Bliss said his physics students are studying the forces necessary to spin the blades and how the electricity will be generated and stored.
"My drawing and design class is designing and blueprinting the plans for each turbine," he added. "Both classes are involved in the construction process. Our activity on this project has generated enough curiosity that discussions and mini-lessons about alternative energy and the environment seem to pop up with all of my classes and many of my students' parents."
Bliss said it is important for teachers to educate students about renewable resources because they are the future stewards of our planet.
"As educators we need to set an example of commitment and model a philosophy and a way of life that is going to benefit everybody," he said.
He also added that the green initiatives at his school have inspired much interest and awareness among parents and the community.
"Many of them have offered assistance to our efforts and projects, and as we become more visible, I expect this awareness will spread throughout our community," he said.